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State council drafts recommendations for unemployment systems

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 6:26 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The state council created to review the broken Ohio unemployment system has now drafted a list of recommendations for improvements.

For the past six months, the Ohio Unemployment Modernization and Improvement Council have heard testimony from experts and those impacted by the broken system.

FOX19 NOW Investigates has exposed many of the issues with the unemployment system.

On Thursday, the council revealed its initial report with some drafted recommendations.

  • Train staff to make them more knowledgeable and retain that staff.
  • Continue to leverage two-step verification to keep fraud from happening.
  • See whether a document tracking and notification system can be implemented, which according to the report, would ensure Ohioans can guarantee documents needed to process claims are received in a timely manner.
  • Look at the possibility for a claimant to be able to clearly track in real-time where their claim is in the process.
  • Look at the possibility of displaying current wait times on the ODJFS website as the Ohio BMV does.
  • Continue to engage with the private industry.

There are still major issues, including cases of people who have had their unemployment benefits stolen like Heather Keyes.

“The website, we need some type of something secure,” Keyes said. “Why isn’t the same thing in place for your banking information as the same thing for your pin. That’s a step process. I get a notification if I change my pin. It’s a big, huge ordeal, but not when you change your banking information. There’s nothing there. I could just go in there and change it. I don’t get no notification or nothing, or anybody could change it.”

In response, Director Matt Damschroder issued the following statement:

“I appreciate the council’s work as we continue to improve and modernize our services,” Damschroder said. “Ohioans expect and deserve reliable and critical help when they need it. We have made significant improvements since the council began meeting, and we anticipate working with the General Assembly to promptly implement the council’s suggestions in order to improve accuracy in claims processing, increase transparency for claimants, and reduce fraud and abuse.”

The next steps were outlined by Damschroder in the below video:

Damschroder claimed again on Thursday the unemployment system has not been hacked.

Not all the council members believe him.

He also had an update for those who got letters saying they had been accidentally overpaid and had to pay the money back.

The waiver system needed to decide the 689,000 cases will be in place by the end of the month.

Ohio has accidentally paid out more than $1.7 billion to legit claims that are not considered fraudulent.

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